Questions & Answers

What age is it appropriate to start taking flying lessons at? There’s no definite answer to this question. FAR prescribe minimum age only for solo flights and for practical tests. Kids can start flying as soon as they can reach rudder pedals and achieve good visibility from the cockpit. However, even if this is not the case, there are special seat cushions that help achieve the correct posture. The most popular age seems to be around 13-14 years old, but it is not a rule. Our advice is to set up an appointment for a free trial in an airplane. If a child starts taking lessons early, by 17 years old he/she can go through all courses up to the Commercial Certificate with Instrument and Multi-engine ratings. The only thing left would be to acquire enough solo flight hours and to pass tests for certificates one after another. After graduating from high school, it is possible to enroll in one of the prestigious aviation universities working there as an instructor teaching peers to fly.

At what age is it already too late? This is limited only by your health. Sometimes people start flying at the age of 60 and fly until they are over 90.

I am ready to start taking lessons. Where do I start? First of all if you want to train for a Recreational Pilot or higher, you need to pass a medical examination and get at least a third class medical certificate (excluding gliders and hot air balloons). If you are going to apply for a Sport Pilot Certificate you need to have a U.S. Driver's License. If you don't drive, a third class medical certificate is your only option. There is no sense in spending money if you are not able to qualify as a pilot medically.

I have health problems. Will I be able to become a pilot? If you hold at least a U.S. driver's license you can qualify for a Sport Pilot Certificate. Of course, if your goals are set higher, then only a designated Aviation Medical Examiner can give you a definite answer. The FAA’s goal is to ensure safety of flight in the United States, but health requirements especially for private pilots are very minimal and are based on common sense. For example, reading glasses and contact lenses are not disqualifying factors. Neither are many chronic illnesses if they are controlled with medications not impairing judgment or psychomotor skills. The full list of disqualifying conditions can be found here: FAR Part 67 Medical Standards and Certification.

Even if you don’t qualify by general standards, there are ways to get a medical certificate. You can always find an Aviation Medical Examiner who will cooperate with your primary care physician and help you collect all necessary documents to present to FAA as a proof that it is possible to issue you either a full certificate or a certificate with some limitations. If this doesn’t work, then you can use a special process established by the FAA called Statement of Demonstrated Ability (SODA). In this case, an FAA medical representative conducts a series of tests possibly including a flight test that lets a pilot prove that he/she is capable of controlling aircraft safely. This process lets people who have prosthetic limbs continue flying. There have been many articles in aviation magazines on this topic. One of them told a story of a woman with an artificial hand who became a captain of a corporate jet. Another one featured a pilot who lost both legs in an accident. His airplane was modified for hands-only flying and for helping him move between the pilot seat and the wheel chair. We suggest you don't despair and call us for advice.

What education and what personal qualities are required to become a pilot?Education at the level of high school is quite enough. It is necessary to be proficient in basic mathematical operations and have basic education in physics. The latter is covered in the theoretical course anyway. This helps teenagers who have not studied physics yet to increase their curiosity in science. By the first solo flight you should be proficient in conversational English. Out of personal qualities, determination and discipline play the greatest role.

Is it hard to learn to fly? To say it is simple would be wrong. Yes, it is harder that learning to drive, but does not require abilities of a superman. Every human being who applies enough patience and work can become a pilot. Gender and age do not matter either.

How much time and money does it take? You will find detailed description in the sections FAA Certificates and Pilot Training Courses.

My English is less than perfect. What do I doCommunicating on the radio for those whose English is a second language can present a hurdle. However, we can put you in touch with our excellent English tutors. You can learn to fly and improve your English simultaneously. In addition to that, there is an excellent computer program Comm1 that helps you develop and improve radio communication techniques.

I don’t have money to pay for lessons. Is financing available? Please visit the site of the company Pilot Finance: http://www.pilotfinance.com. Our company is fully approved by Pilot Finance. It is also possible to reduce educational expenses by applying for a credit card of MBNA America. They refund 5% of your training expenses incurred with approved schools (up to $250 a year). Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) offers advice on how to learn to fly with minimum of out of pocket expenses. For instance, you can become a lineman in one the schools and receive reduced aircraft rental and instruction fees.

How safe are small airplanes? What if the engine quits in flight? Achievements in aircraft engine technology and strict position of the FAA regarding aircraft inspections and maintenance have led to dramatic decline of aircraft accidents over the last 10 years. According to the latest NTSB reports, accidents due to engine failures represent only a couple of percent from the total number of accidents. Even if the engine fails, an airplane can glide to a safe landing on a field, road, or even a body of water. Elevated attention of mass media to aircraft accidents only proves that they are very rare. Many more people die every day in automobile accidents; however, that doesn’t deserve front pages of newspapers. Undoubtedly flying carries certain risks. Each individual should decide for himself/herself to what extent that risk is acceptable. In order to ease your concerns, we have to say that every pilot undergoes extensive training on handling emergencies and overall risk management. Those skills are then thoroughly tested before signing off a student for a solo flight and on each practical test. All of these measures lead to high level of safety.

Does it make sense to buy an airplane to learn to fly? If you are sure about the level you want to achieve in aviation, buying your own airplane will save you not as much money as time. It will also eliminate scheduling problems. If you are going to use your airplane for business or family travel after receiving your pilot certificate, it adds one more argument in its favor. However, if you are making your first steps in aviation and are not sure about your ultimate goal, it is better to rent airplanes at first. After you have learned more about different types of airplanes and their maintenance, you will be in a better position to select a flying machine that will satisfy your needs for a long time to come.

What are the practical advantages of acquiring a pilot license? Only 300 airports in the United States are served by scheduled commercial airlines. The total number of airports just in the continental part of the country is close to 5,000. Imagine how many exotic places you can visit in your own private aircraft coming and going on your own schedule while reducing travel time in 2-3 times comparatively to driving. With a little extra paperwork you can also visit Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean. Add to the mix all the beauty of the world accessible only to birds and pilots and you will never get rid of the flying bug.

If you are a businessperson, your private aircraft will bring you to your clients faster and closer than commercial airlines. Time savings are also in the magnitude of 50% - 60%. It is normal for a businessperson serving a whole region to return home at the end of every day avoiding hotel stays. Private aircraft makes your business flexible and mobile. For example, you can deliver a mechanical part to a client faster than any courier service increasing customer satisfaction. If at least 80% of your flying is done on business, you can take full advantage of its depreciation for tax purposes. In addition to that, a new tax law allows writing off up to 60% of aircraft acquisition cost in the first year.

I don’t want to learn to fly but I would like to take a ride. Is it possible? Yes, of course. We conduct scenic flights over the New York City and its suburbs. You will be able to fly along Manhattan over the Hudson River or along the Long Island coast. For prices and options please visit the section Airplane Rides/Tours.

Is it allowed to take pictures and shoot videos in airports and in flight? Yes, without limitations.

What's all the fuss about the Sport Pilot Certificate? The Sport Pilot Certificate rule was adopted by FAA in 2004. It lets more people to become pilots than before. For full description please visit the section FAA Certificates

You didn’t answer my question. It’s impossible! Just kidding. If this is the case, please write or call us, and we will try to answer it.

AIRBORN FLIGHT SERVICES, INC.